NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Nashville Christian school shooter “clearly” attempted to enter classrooms that were barricaded, the man who led a school shooting training with teachers and staff at The Covenant School last year told The Epoch Times on Wednesday.
Brink Fidler is president of Defend Systems, a Nashville active shooter training company that contracted with the school for training sessions. He said on Wednesday he had been at the school all day and did a walkthrough with homicide detectives to answer some questions and gain insight.
“[The shooter] did not get into a single room—and that was not for lack of effort,” he said. “The only victims she got to were in open areas. So, they did exactly what they needed to do in that moment without hesitation and they are responsible for getting those children that survived back to their families.”
Covenant Trained for a Moment That Came“This one hits home because they are a client of ours,” he said. “We study these events for a living. This one is vastly different—because I knew these people—so we’re just trying to take it all in."
In 2022, Defend Systems held a “pretty intense” training with school staff. Fidler and his staff conducted an active shooter mitigation course at the school in January 2022 and in March 2022 did a medical intervention session with them.
He said students were not present during the trainings, as they were meant specifically for staff, adding he was not a fan of children going through the trainings, even as it is requested sometimes.
Fidler said while the training didn’t have an impact on those lost—the swift action of faculty and staff under immense pressure saved many more lives from being lost.
The TrainingFidler said Defend Systems teaches three key techniques in the event of an active shooter—to evade, to fortify, and lockdown—in that order.
The company teaches them how to get away safely and evade the shooter if possible based on the location of the shooter. He said on Monday, some classes were able to do that based on the location of the shooter.
The second technique is to fortify. They walk staff through what to do while teachers are fortified in a room and how to defend themselves and the children if a shooter makes it to the door.
They also do trauma medical and pre-hospital medical training, which Covenant took part in.
Personal ConnectionsResponding to a question about reports that headmaster Katherine Koonce confronted the shooter in a hallway and was killed—he said he believed she did all she could to protect her staff and students.
“We only teach the physical portion as a last resort, and that’s if you’re fortified, we don’t teach you to go after the shooter unless you have no other choice,” he said. “Unless the teacher breaches the room that you’re in or you’re stuck in the hall and the shooter is around the corner—we do give them tools to deal with that.”
Fidler said Koonce was a personal friend of his, and knowing her personality “she was probably going to move to that threat regardless of whether or not I told her to do that.”
He said he believed Koonce heard the fire alarm go off while in her office and left to check on what was happening before encountering and engaging the shooter.
The Fire Alarm QuestionWhile Metro Nashville police are still investigating if the fire alarm went off as a result of school staff or a student pulling it, or whether the shooter pulled it, Fidler gave another possibility.
Fidler said part of training at the end of the course is to hold a live-fire exercise in the building with real guns and real ammunition, not blanks. He said to use real bullets they have a “bullet trap.”
“So, I’ve shot real guns in buildings in several places, I do it all the time,” he said. “Depending on where you are, the smoke from your weapon can very quickly set off the fire alarm system.”
He said it is likely that could have happened because it’s happened to him in the past—but the exact reason behind the alarm going off is still under investigation.